Mary Karr – Suicide’s Note: An Annual

Suicide’s Note: An Annual

BY MARY KARR

I hope you’ve been taken up by Jesus
though so many decades have passed, so far apart we’d grown
     between love transmogrifying into hate and those sad letters
           and phone calls and your face vanishing into a noose that
I couldn’t
     today name the gods
           you at the end worshipped, if any, praise being
impossible for the devoutly miserable. And screw my church who’d
     roast in Hell poor suffering
           bastards like you, unable to bear the masks
of their own faces. With words you sought to shape
     a world alternate to the one that dared
           inscribe itself so ruthlessly across your eyes, for you
could not, could never
     fully refute the actual or justify the sad heft of your body, earn
           your rightful space or pay for the parcels of oxygen you
inherited. More than once you asked
     that I breathe into your lungs like the soprano in the opera
           I loved so my ghost might inhabit you and you ingest my belief
in your otherwise-only-probable soul. I wonder does your
     death feel like failure to everybody who ever
           loved you as if our collective CPR stopped
too soon, the defib paddles lost charge, the corpse
     punished us by never sitting up. And forgive my conviction
           that every suicide’s an asshole. There is a good reason I am not
God, for I would cruelly smite the self-smitten.
     I just wanted to say ha-ha, despite
           your best efforts you are every second
alive in a hard-gnawing way for all who breathed you deeply in,
     each set of lungs, those rosy implanted wings, pink balloons.
          We sigh you out into air and watch you rise like rain.

Source: Poetry (September 2012).

This poem, according to Karr herself, is about/for David Foster Wallace.  Wallace and Karr shared a rather intense relationship. Wallace even admitted that Karr inspired him to write Infinite Jest.  Regardless of its genesis, this poem is darkly beautiful with perhaps the best ending I’ve ever seen.

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